Sottsass won the Arc. It was wonderful, his master trainer finally has the big prize on his CV and he was a worthy winner. But on Sunday, there was lots of other top class racing and here are a few who caught my eye.
Sealiway - Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere
I can’t help but feel this years renewal is the weakest running of this race I have seen. When I think about the 2019 renewal, when Victor Ludorum held off Alson and Armory, that was a proper renewal. They have all run well at Group level since and this race has often been a pointer to next seasons classic generation. Not so in 2020. Maybe I am being a bit harsh on Sealiway, he has won 4 of his 6 starts and now has a Juvenile Group 1 on his CV. On Sunday, he travelled superbly well and came clear by 8 lengths from Nando Parrado. I have said for most of the season that this year’s French juveniles were lacking any star quality and I still hold to that opinion. Sealiway is good, but not a superstar. What that says for Nando Parrado; he isn’t anywhere near the level his Royal Ascot win suggested.
Earthlight/One Master - Prix de La Foret
It might seem strange to say it, but this was the best race run on Sunday. One Master is an ultra tough, consistent filly who fully deserved the win. She loves the soft ground and the heat of battle, which she showed by staying on to overhaul Earthlight. William Haggas has a superstar here and I really hope she is kept in training for 2021. To beat Earthlight, Safe Voyage and Tropbeau was a monumental effort, with the exception of Pinatubo, these are the best 7 furlong horses in Europe and she delivered the goods to win the Prix de la Foret for the 3rd time.
However, Mickael Barzalona must be having sleepless nights over this ride. His decision to push Earthlight forwards in the false straight and get racing so soon has probably cost him the win. As a jockey, I think he is one of the best around and this was an uncharacteristic error, but on heavy autumn ground to lift the pace so soon was a gamble, and he lost. Earthlight has lost nothing in defeat and if he now bows out to stud, then he has ended on a high. All that said, I think if they ran the race again and Earthlight was held on to for longer, he might have picked up this Group 1.
Wooded - Prix de l’Abbaye
If the Prix de la Foret was the best group 1, this was the worst. In the absence of Battaash, it was little more than a sprint handicap and the draw, so important over the straight course at Paris Longchamp, gave the winner the edge. Glass Slippers, drawn out in stall 10, produced an enormous effort to get so close and if they met again on more equal terms, she would easily reverse this form.
Tarnawa - Prix de l’Opera
The obvious superstar from Sundays racing was Tarnawa. Dermot Weld has campaigned her perfectly this season and she has picked up both the Prix Vermeille and the Prix de l’Opera. Sundays race was almost an exact replay of her win in the Vermeille, coming fast and late to overhaul Alpine Star, an outstanding filly in her own right. On a day when being held up on the heavy ground did not suit, to produce such a performance, with closing sectionals 4 seconds faster than Sottsass in the Arc, was unbelievable. She heads to the Breeders Cup, probably the best filly in Europe. Fingers crossed she comes back for 2021.
Tiger Tanaka/Tasmania - Prix Marcel Boussac
All eyes in this race will be on Tiger Tanaka, deservedly so. I have always loved Tiger Tanaka, she was a worthy winner and is a fantastic story for her connections. Having qualified by winning here, it looks like they are off to the Breeders Cup and good luck to them.
However, lost in all the fanfare of the race was the outstanding run of the 2nd, TASMANIA. Trained by Carlos Laffan-Parias, this daughter of Zoffany produced an enormous run on just her 3rd start. She only made her debut on 3rd September, so within 5 weeks she has won her maiden and produced a Group 1 effort on heavy ground. Having been drawn in stall 13, which was far from ideal, the winner came from 3, the 3rd from 3. Tasmania found herself in rear, on the inside rail as they came into the false straight.
Once they passed the cutaway, Maxime Guyon made the decision to run up the far rail, which went against the grain for the day, when there seemed to be an obvious bias down the centre of the straight. Having had 3 runs in the space of 5 weeks, she will most likely be put away for next year, but when she comes back she could be a serious force as a 3-year-old.